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Marvel magic

With Avengers: Infinity War having taken $2bn (£1.5bn) at the box office, Marvel’s superhero films continue to dominate the cinema landscape. But just how do the comic book characters make the transition to the big screen?
It is now 10 years since Iron Man rocketed his way into cinemas, with Robert Downey Jr’s quick-witted charm winning over audiences across the globe.
And from the afro-futurist Wakanda to the gleaming Asgard and nightmarish Dark Dimension, advances in computer-generated effects and the studio’s blockbuster budgets have enabled filmmakers to push the envelope ever more.
But while the fantastical deeds of its costumed crusaders continue to thrill, the Marvel Cinematic Universe owes much of its success to the teams of unsung stars who never appear on screen.
For long before the films are released to sold-out showings amid a media frenzy, concept artists spend months painstakingly creating and honing the look and feel of each instalment.
“It’s totally critical [to the end product],” says Ron Ashtiani, director of Atomhawk Design, which counts Thor: The Dark World, Guardians of the Galaxy and Avengers: Age of Ultron among its portfolio.
“It’s a huge amount of pressure, but also really rewarding.”
The studio, based in Gateshead in north-east England, is displaying examples of its work as part of the Great Exhibition of the North.
Atomhawk was enlisted by Marvel after impressing with its videogame design work.
That area of expertise, Ashtiani believes, lent itself well to the vision Marvel had for its films.
Working digitally with illustration software, its team of artists design and refine the appearance of characters, props and environments – often dozens of times over.
From initial sketches through to detailed scene shots, no stone is left unturned.
“Every project we work on, we do a significant amount of reference-gathering,” Ashtiani reveals.
“We explore real-world reference points and fiction.

Source: BBC
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